Social skills are a valuable part of many different programs such as addiction recovery, mental health recovery, and even conflict resolution and communication techniques. It is always important, during any difficult times in life, to be able to effectively communicate how someone is feeling, what their goals may be, and how they want to take agency over their own situation.
It is also important to continue being social, even in difficult times, in order to address many of the feelings of isolation, depression, or anxiety that may be a part of someone’s life. While each person will have their own way of using their voice, it is important to be socially active either with new people or one’s own support group on a consistent basis.
What Are “Social Skills?”
“Social skills” is a term that is mentioned quite often, so it is important to have a good grasp on exactly what it entails. Social skills are the skills that someone learns and employs in order to facilitate some kind of interaction between two or more people. While this can take the form of learning to talk to other people in a confident, articulate way, it can also take many other forms. Body language and participating social rituals are all part of establishing strong social skills.
Learning to properly utilize someone’s social skills can allow someone not just to combat feelings of isolation, but also allow someone a way to safely express their own agency and identity in a situation in an effective manner. Self-assertion can be difficult, but it is essential in allowing someone to be themselves and is required for finding an outlet for someone’s stresses, anxieties, or depression.
Key Elements of Effective Communication
While social skills and communication do not always necessarily involve using one’s voice directly, it is the most common form of practice. However, simply speaking doesn’t necessarily make for effective communication. When addressing a social situation, it is important to speak slowly and clearly. Speaking slowly allows for a couple of advantages. First, it means that someone can be more easily understood. The fewer times that someone has to repeat themselves in order to be understood, the more direct and fluid each conversation can become.
Speaking slowly also gives the speaker more time in their own minds to formulate and organize their own thoughts, allowing someone to say what they want to say, rather than worry about being misunderstood. Speaking quickly, or saying things as they come to mind, can cause communication between two people to be messy, or even confusing. Effective communication is more than being understood–it is about being understood effectively the first time.
Listening Is as Important as Talking
Learning to express oneself and their own thoughts and feelings is very important. However, it is just as important to let other people know that they are just as involved in the conversation. Listening is an important part of communication and isn’t the same thing as just being quiet while someone else speaks. It involves an active internalization of the details of what they are saying. Knowing the details of what someone is saying allows each person to feel like they are equally a part of the same conversation, and thus all parties have an opportunity to express themselves with respect.
Repeating the unique details in someone’s response even serves a few purposes. It reinforces that someone is truly listening by being able to repeat unique aspects of the conversation, and also provides the much needed time that someone may need so they can speak slowly and deliberately, in order to be heard correctly.
Both talking and listening involve a non-verbal component. The way that someone is standing or sitting has a large influence on the conversation. Effective communication involves eye contact or expressive body language to convey emotion. For an active listener, body language is also the primary way to indicate that they have a particular thought or comment on something that another may have said and they can use their body to indicate that they want to speak without having to verbally interrupt another person. While this indication may seem minor, it carries an attitude of respect for what another is saying while still sending the same message, and it can make communication more amicable and fluid between those involved.
Put Yourself in It
Effective communication isn’t always about agreeing and sharing interests. With effective social skills and a respectful communication strategy, it is important to then put oneself and their own opinions into a conversation. Many of these social skills are bridges to allow someone to express themselves and their own thoughts and identity. Expressing someone’s identity takes a good degree of agency to achieve, but is paramount as each person strives not just for effective social skills, but towards their own goals of self-actualization as a whole.
Only by expressing who someone is can they begin to find the places in life where they are happiest and truly belong. Continuing to practice these social skills is all an effort to give each person the tools they need to accomplish their own personal and interpersonal goals.
Learning to effectively communicate and express yourself through proper social skills is something that requires practice. There can be any number of personal barriers that may inhibit each person’s ability to be understood in the way they want to be, and this can affect their personal, or even professional, lives. Social skills are something that we have to use every day, so it is important to be sure that someone is learning proper and respectful techniques for dealing with the world around them. For those suffering from mental illness, addiction recovery, or their own personal barriers and anxieties, LifeTutors is available to help you with your communication and life coaching today. With programs for individuals as well as families, or for those looking for aftercare from addiction recovery or mental illness facilities, LifeTutors has a program to help you continue to build up your skills and live your own autonomous life. For more information on how LifeTutors can help you with your unique situation, call today at (828) 417-7122.